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Using prescribed fire to reduce the risk of large wildfires: A break-even analysis

Posted date: August 01, 2018
Publication Year: 
1987
Authors: Saveland, James M.
Publication Series: 
Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
Source: In: Proceedings: Ninth Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology; April 21-24; San Diego, CA. Boston, MA: American Meteorological Society. p. 119-122.

Abstract

Nearly all wildfires are extinguished when they are still small. The 3-5% that get out of control cause 95% of all wildfire-related costs and damages (Dodge 1972, Wilson 1985). There are two ways to deal with these problem fires. One practice is to limit fire by suppressing fires as soon as possible after they are detected. Increasing the capability of suppression forces would presumably allow fire-fighters to catch more large fires when the fires are still small. However, substantial increases in suppression capability occurred in the 1970’s without a reduction in suppression expenditures and fire losses (Gale 1977). Increased appropriation of funds for fire exclusion has not reduced values at risk or area burned (Bonnicksen and Lee 1979). The other practice is to use prescribed fire to reduce the fire hazard. Every management area relies to varying degrees on one or both of these management practices. Both practices modify the role of fire in the ecosystem, thus changing the set of possible outcomes and their probabilities (Zivnuska 1977).

Citation

Saveland, James M. 1987. Using prescribed fire to reduce the risk of large wildfires: A break-even analysis. In: Proceedings: Ninth Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology; April 21-24; San Diego, CA. Boston, MA: American Meteorological Society. p. 119-122.